New York City activist

January 30, 2008

My decision about Ron Wieck’s show

In the JRFF forum, ref (a.k.a. ref1 here) says, about the possibility of me appearing on Ron Wieck’s show:

I think she will be the toughest opponent as of yet. Dylan & Jason were easy, Fetzer… crazy. Diane has good argumentation, she is thorough and polite, it’s not going to be a walk in the park like dismissing some “no plane” or Loose Change claims. She’s by far the nicest truth movement representative I have ever had any interaction with. And she seems sincere. Although we very much disagree on almost every topic.

Thanks for all the compliments. But I’ve decided, as per my initial reaction, that I’m not yet ready to participate in a televised debate because I’m too new to the 9/11 Truth movement and too new at studying various topics pertaining to the events of 9/11. (I’ve been at it only since this past summer.) There are too many topics I haven’t yet researched in enough detail even regarding just WTC 7 (to which the proposed debate would be limited) for me to participate adequately in a televised debate about it.

I’ve been told before that I already have good debating skills, at least in writing. (Back in November, Pat Curley told me, “Diane, if you don’t drop out of the Truth Movement you scare me greatly because you’re already better at arguing the case reasonably than anybody I’ve come across.”) But that’s partly because, in an online written debate here on this blog, I have the option of doing online research on the fly. Obviously I don’t have that option in a televised debate. In a televised debate, there is no substitute for being thoroughly on top of a wide range of facts. I’m just not there yet.

I could perhaps be adequately prepared for a televised debate confined to the topic of WTC 7, in one month from now, if I were to spend all my spare time during the next several weeks doing detailed research on WTC 7. However, upon taking a more realistic look at my schedule, I realize that I have too many other things I need to do during the next month.

Furthermore, as far as 9/11 research is concerned, there are other topics I think are more important for me to be focussing on right now, such as reviewing a draft of a paper someone has written critiquing Bazant. (The paper will be submitted to a mainstream scholarly journal, so this is very important. Although I’m not an expert on all the topics touched on by the paper, I’m at least good at catching math errors and misapplications of basic laws of physics.) Also there are some very important recent news items (e.g. involving Sibel Edmonds) that I have not had enough time to stay on top of. And then there’s the New York 9/11 Ballot Initiative and the politics surrounding same.

I met Ron Wieck at a diner this past Saturday. When I told him my concerns, given my newness to the movement, in contrast to Mark Roberts’s involvement in the issue as an official-story defender for at least the past several years, Ron suggested that I appear on the show in more of a questioning role than a debating role.

But, really, I’m not interested in appearing on the show except as a strong enough debater to strike a blow for the cause. And I’m just not there yet.

So, I’m now back to my initial reaction: I’d like to take a rain check on Ron’s offer. I’d like to keep open the option of appearing on his show in the future. At some point in the future, I might also be more “influential” than I am now, and Mark Roberts prefers to debate “influential” people.

On Saturday, I asked Ron to ask Mark how he feels about me. Mark (a.k.a. Gravy) replied in the JREF forum:

I had one email exchange with her about a trivial matter and haven’t read her blog. I’ll take a look at it later. I’m not aware of any influence she’s had or anything new she has to offer, but if you think she’s a reasonable representative, I’ll certainly participate. To be honest, since I don’t see the need for the show, I’m mainly interested in meeting Arthur Scheuerman, but as always I’m flattered to be asked.

The “trivial matter” is discussed here on my blog. Anyhow, Mark doesn’t sound like he would be terribly disappointed at me backing out of the show for now.

Ron (a.k.a. pomeroo) replied to Mark:

Then let’s consider the matter settled. We will tape two editions of ‘Hardfire’ on February 26 with or without a representative of the other side. If we have just Arthur and Mark, we’ll do the second show as a call-in. There’s a limit to the amount of time we can spend searching for someone in possession of a great truth who is willing to share it with the rest of the world.

Someone with the username T.A.M. wrote in that same JREF thread:

I think getting Diane, from what I have read here, sounds like a good idea…

PROS
——
1.She sounds reasonable, and mature enough to make the debate interesting and informative.
2.It will eliminate some of the truther whining that the video does not let them have a voice.

CONS
——
1. She is not a truther leader, so a lot of the movement will simply brush he performance off if poor.
2. With only a single guest for the TM, versus Mark, Arthur, and a bias host (despite his fair play), the truthers will still whine.

Further down on the page, DGM wrote: “Another con is she wants to limit the debate to WTC 7.”

Actually, the decision to limit the debate was Ron’s. I saw the topic limitation as a big plus, because it meant fewer things I would have to study in order to be adequately prepared for a televised debate. That’s the main reason why I tentatively accepted Ron’s offer.

DGM also wrote:

She is smart and I think she knows that going this way will lead to having to discredit eyewitnesses (sounds of explosions).

The eye-witnesses issue is one of those things I haven’t yet researched in enough detail. One of the central issues, as far as eye-witness testimony is concerned, is whether there were sufficiently loud explosive sounds, just before and during the collapse of WTC 7, to be consistent with controlled demolition using explosives. (I’m aware of denials by official-story defenders on this point, which I therefore need to research further. See also this thread in the Loose Change forum, and the referenced thread in the old forum.) Anyhow, if indeed it should turn out that demolition with explosives can be ruled out on that basis, then I’ll need to dig deeper into my other suspicions as to what might have been done to WTC 7. For now I’ll just say that if the fire observations in Appendix L – Interim Report on WTC 7 (PDF) in NIST’s June 2004 Progress Report are to be believed, I think they suggest arson, in addition to any fires caused by flying debris. But I’ll have to research that issue in more detail, too.

T.A.M. wrote:

In the end she will likely pull the Kevin McPadden card, which as you say, you either believe, or do not (i am in the latter group, given his story changes dramatically based on his audience).

Nope. McPadden’s testimony looks questionable to me. (See this post of mine.) I’m not saying it’s necessarily false, but I wouldn’t want to rely on it as evidence.

Someone with the user name “nicepants” wrote:

Be sure to read the responses you’ve gotten from truthers explaining why they’ve decided not to show. I love the excuse they use that Mark isn’t qualified. If that was the case, it would be a slam dunk.

Actually, there’s a legitimate issue here. Because Mark apparently does not have a strong technical background (I once saw him say somewhere, “I’m just a tour guide”), he is likely to rely heavily on arguments from authority when discussing the central physical issues regarding building collapses. Hence any in-depth discussion about the central physical issues would almost inevitably have to veer off into a distracting debate about the significance of things like conflicts of interest, the politics of academia, and the methodological differences between structural engineering and nearly every other kind of engineering. These are important topics in themselves, but, if someone is just going to cling desperately to arguments from authority, as I’ve seen Mark do in quite a few posts in the JREF forum, this makes a real discussion about the central physical issues impossible. I’d much rather debate the central physical issues with someone who has had at least a year or two of physics in college and who has a strong recollection of basic mechanics, including the math involved. (P.S., 2/3/2008: Mark Roberts’s “I’m just a tour guide” remark can be found in here in the JREF forum.)

If I ever do a televised debate with Mark Roberts, I would prefer that it be a debate focussed primarily on issues that any intelligent layperson can research and discuss without having to cling desperately to arguments from authority, such as the air defense failures and the behavior of high officials on 9/11. But I am, at the present time, far from adequately prepared for a televised debate on those issues – even less so than I am, at this moment, prepared for a televised debate about WTC 7.

(P.S.: 2/9/2008: It turns out that Mark is indeed able to argue at least some physical issues directly. See the section # Mark’s mechanical arguments, and some other thoughts in my post Review of Hardfire debates between Mark Roberts and Loose Change crew.)

Various other remarks were made about me in another JREF thread, the one where Pat Curley initially suggested that I appear on Ron’s show. I’ve replied to some of those remarks here.

Later in that thread, someone with the username “Crazy Chainsaw” declared with a rhetorical flourish: “she does not know that the constants of the universe are against hter.” He didn’t get specific. He’s welcome to come over here and explain what he means in a comment here on this blog, as long as any rhetorical flourishes stay within my comment policy.

Crazy Chainsaw also says, “her only possible argument will be one of lack of knowledge.” No, it is certainly not true that my only argument is one of lack of knowledge, though I can see how a superficial reading of my blog might convey that impression.

CC also says that I rely on “the flawed science of Jones and Gage.” I do not rely on Jones and Gage. I’ve only tentatively endorsed Jones’s findings regarding thermite, on a time-will-tell basis. (I don’t know enough chemistry to judge it for myself, except to note that most “debunkers” have either avoided or distorted his central piece of evidence, the iron spherules found not only in Jones’s dust sample, but in the the U.S. Geological Survey’s sample too.) And I am aware that Gage’s presentation contains errors, though it also makes some very good points, in my opinion.

Speaking of which, an important thing I’ve been meaning to do for a long time and haven’t done yet is to write a detailed critique of Gage’s presentation and email it to him. I’ve already emailed Gage about some issues (as discussed in this post and the subsequent comment thread), for which he thanked me. Apparently he has subsequently made at least some changes to his presentation.

Anyhow, I’m wondering whether Mark Roberts would be willing to debate Jon Gold, the producer of the video “9/11: Press for Truth.” Gold has voiced a willingness to debate Mark Roberts in the Truth Action forum, where he has also mentioned some other “influential” people whom Ron Wieck might want to consider inviting on to future shows, on aspects of 9/11 other than the question of what happened to the WTC buildings besides getting hit by planes.

To Ron: Later this week I’ll post a review of your show with the Loose Change guys. I’ll then arrange to meet you to return your DVD.

I would appreciate it very much if someone here who posts in the JREF forum could post a link to this post over there.

(P.S., 2/24/2008: Mark Roberts has emailed me to tell me he has been researching “truther claims” only since April 2006.)

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18 Comments »

  1. Diane,
    Could you post your thoughts on the technical aspect of WTC7, I might be able to address some of them.

    Comment by newtonsbit — January 31, 2008 @ 2:52 am | Reply

  2. For some of my views on WTC 7, see the following earlier posts of mine (listed in forward chronological order, oldest first), for starters:

    Straight-down collapse of WTC 7 – what do “debunkers” say?
    WTC 7: Reply to Pat at Screw Loose Change
    Richard Gage’s slide show, WTC 7 section: Reply to charlienneb
    WTC 7: FEMA report and NIST prelim report: What about pre-collapse leaning and the transit???
    Engineers were surprised by the WTC collapses
    Loose Change Final Cut – section on WTC 7

    In some of the above posts I promised to write one or more in-depth future posts about the physical issues involved. I never got around to writing those posts, partly because the main people I had been debating with about WTC 7 left. I might write those posts at some point in the near future, if you decide to hang around here.

    P.S.: Gregory Urich has posted a response to your critique of Gordon Ross here.

    Comment by Diane — January 31, 2008 @ 3:14 am | Reply

  3. I’m happy to give you a rain check, Diane. I look forward to your eventual appearance on ‘Hardfire.’ It is odd, however, that I simply can’t find anyone to join Mark and Arthur Scheuerman on a show that will be featured in a BBC documentary.It’s hard to understand.

    Ron

    Comment by pomeroo — January 31, 2008 @ 3:14 am | Reply

  4. Ron, you understand the concept “Framing” (Prof George Lakoff et al), as well as ways to set the stage, and the agenda. This process has has beeen extensively and studiously documented on the British webite “Media Lens” (vis a vis the BBC, and the British press), amongst many others. So let’s not be naive here shall we, “Balance” involves a great deal more than just inviting the “Opposition” . . .

    Further from what I’ve been able to gather, you’re not interested in justice, because if you were, you’d be pressing for answers to all the ignored questions, demanding an inquiry that cost more than a tacky inquest into Clinton’s sex life, and demanding that Bush and Cheney testify separately, and under oath. But maybe if it was your pregnant daughter crushed under tons of rubble, you would. At least, we can only hope so. In the interim, thousands of people have been killed (in the most appalling circumstances possible), in a mass homicide – and no judicial investigation that would satisfy the barest standards of due process and/or evidence gathering has ever been carried through.

    So in summary Ron (from my observations above), I can see all you want is “Target practise” on your own terms, by placing good, honest people within your chosen frames, and within your chosen agendas.

    Well, if it my choice I’d tell you (and other like you), to sling your hook – because now, the good, honest people demanding truth and justice will set their own frames, and set their own agendas, and will do it on their own terms. They’ve got zero help from the corporate media to get this far, and they’ll be going a damn sight further.

    Apologies if any of the above seems rude. It wasn’t meant to be, I’m just being direct.

    Comment by wiccedwoman — January 31, 2008 @ 7:49 am | Reply

  5. Hi, wiccedwoman. Welcome to this blog.

    Your username seems to be hinting that you’re Wiccan. If so, you might be interested in various posts of mine that critique (among many other things) anti-Wiccan bigotry on the part of Prison Planet, We Are Change, et al. See the following posts of mine, for example:

    The recent growth of anti-Illuminism: Dreadful ideology about the dreaded Illuminati
    More about anti-Illuminism

    See also the thread We Are Change – September threads on right wing views in the Truth Action forum.

    Anyhow, your comment above is kinda borderline in terms of my comment policy. In general, accusations and insinuations of dishonesty, on the part of other commenters on this blog, and on the part of other people likely to be reading this blog, are discoraged here. People on both sides tend to perceive advocates of the other side as dishonest. On this blog I aim to get past all these mutual accusations and just focus on the issues and the evidence.

    I would be interested in your thoughts about other posts here.

    Comment by Diane — January 31, 2008 @ 12:16 pm | Reply

  6. I do not think that your good nature, patience, and argumentation is unrelated to your being “too new” to the 9/11 “Truth” Movement. I think that you will find that the “less new” you are- the more you will be like everyone else.

    I believe that’s why so many people are reaching out to you, now- not to embarrass you or make fun of you- but to catch your errors and help you while there’s still hope. A debate is a great way to discovered these flawed assertions and already-debunked claims that you seem to have accepted.

    We can already see this metamorphosis in claiming that Mark is unqualified- an ad hominem that should have been caught by your “good nature” filter. I don’t know you personally, so I can’t speak to how new you are or where you could or should be in your study, but the mistake I often see conspiracists make is to let others speak for them (ie, constant referencing of others’ work, with no argument and no understanding of the work). This argument by proxy approach that most conspiracists take will leave them entirely unprepared in any sort of a debate setting.

    Be careful not to make these mistakes, and I’m sure that in due time you will be a worthy opponent on Hardfire.

    Comment by totovader — January 31, 2008 @ 3:36 pm | Reply

  7. Hi Diane,

    Mark Roberts posted the link to here from the same thread at the JREF forum that you referenced. In that thread, he has now copied numerous comments and replies from Jon Gold where Mr Gold has (apparently)stated he wont debate Mark. If that is true, why do you suppose he still professes a willingness to do so in the Truth Action forum? I would love for someone to ask him for an explanation of his his contradictory statements.

    Then, Mark says,

    “Sure, Diane, I’ll debate Jon Gold any time, on Hardfire or elsewhere. He seems to have a great deal of trouble finding me, though. Perhaps you can pass my contact information on, since you have it.”

    BTW, here is the link to the posts.

    http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=104690

    Comment by calcas — January 31, 2008 @ 3:55 pm | Reply

  8. totovader wrote:

    I do not think that your good nature, patience, and argumentation is unrelated to your being “too new” to the 9/11 “Truth” Movement. I think that you will find that the “less new” you are- the more you will be like everyone else.

    Although I’m relatively new to the 9/11 Truth movement, I am not new to politics, or to controversy. I’ve been involved in many intense controveries throughout my life.

    I started out as a gay rights activist in college — back in the late 1970’s, when anti-gay bigotry was still commonplace and accepted as normal even among a lot of highly educated people. Even in that very hostile era, I took the rational, civil approach, and it worked. I even managed to persuade a couple of religious right wingers on campus to back down.

    There have also been times in my life when I departed from the rational, civil approach, and, when I did, things did not work well for me. So, I’m not about to abandon lessons learned from long experience.

    I believe that’s why so many people are reaching out to you, now- not to embarrass you or make fun of you- but to catch your errors and help you while there’s still hope. A debate is a great way to discovered these flawed assertions and already-debunked claims that you seem to have accepted.

    I am open to having any errors of mine corrected in comments here on my blog. I don’t need to go on a TV show for that purpose.

    We can already see this metamorphosis in claiming that Mark is unqualified- an ad hominem that should have been caught by your “good nature” filter.

    It wasn’t an “ad hominem” because the very topic of the discussion was the circumstances under which I’d be willing to engage in a public debate. These circumstances naturally include the qualifications of the person I would be debating with, as well as my own qualifications. Furthermore, I should clarify that I consider Mark “unqualified” only on the purely physical issues. But the purely physical issues are only one piece of a much larger puzzle. On all other issues, I consider him to be far more “qualified” than myself at this point, which is the main reason I backed down.

    Anyhow, my judgment of Mark’s “qualifications” is based on my own observation of an admittedly limited sample of his JREF posts, as discussed in my post above, so it’s possible I’m mistaken. If I am, feel free to point it out. In any case, I am sorry if I offended Mark.

    I don’t know you personally, so I can’t speak to how new you are or where you could or should be in your study, but the mistake I often see conspiracists make is to let others speak for them (ie, constant referencing of others’ work, with no argument and no understanding of the work).

    I don’t do that. See, for example, my review of Loose Change Final Cut – section on WTC 7. Note my careful scrutiny of almost every detail. Also, this past summer I spent quite a bit of time looking at various “debunking” sites, primarily Mike Williams’s “9/11 Myths” site.

    Anyhow, please don’t use the word “conspiracist” again here without first reading my blog post Chip Berlet and “Conspiracism”.

    Comment by Diane — January 31, 2008 @ 5:44 pm | Reply

  9. To calcas:

    Thanks for telling me about goings-on in the JREF thread. I’ll look there later today.

    I’ve written to Jon Gold, both here and in a private message on the Truth Action message board, to call his attention to your comment here on this blog.

    Comment by Diane — January 31, 2008 @ 7:02 pm | Reply

  10. Thanks for those comments Diane, very much appreciated. Points taken.

    How I see this is that 3,000 people were murdered, and no judicial process worth the name has ever been carried out. And forgive me (without wanting to get into accusations), I don’t see how any sane and honest person can deny and avoid that very obvious fact. And fine, if some people honestly believe 19 Arabs with box-cutters did this, well then – let’s test that hypothesis in an open court of law where all the rules of evidence apply, not in some arena that’s been “Framed” by people who don’t want (I assume, correct me if I’m wrong), an open court hearing, and would fight like hell to avoid that (again, correct me if I’m wrong). Because whatever someone’s view, I would see them as an honest broker if they admitted the official investigative process was below woeful, and supported a new independent, open court process.

    Further, maybe Ron would agree to have Prof George Lakoff (Prof of linguisistics), consult with him on his programme (and provide a report), to ensure the underlying frames and agendas are acceptable? Unless Ron (and other like him), would agree to such a close and critical analysis, I’m afraid my initial impression and opinion stand.

    Comment by wiccedwoman — January 31, 2008 @ 11:13 pm | Reply

  11. About a possible public debate between Mark Roberts and Jon Gold:

    I’ve contacted Jon Gold about this via private messages on the Truth Action message board. He is indeed willing to have a public debate with Mark Roberts, subject to negotiation in advance concerning both the venue and the range of topics. He is not willing to appear on Ron Wieck’s show, but would be willing to debate with Mark Roberts in other venues. And he would want to have a say, in advance, over the range of topics to be covered in the debate.

    Certainly it’s reasonable to want to negotiate the range of topics to be covered in advance of a public debate.

    Comment by Diane — February 1, 2008 @ 2:03 am | Reply

  12. It would seem better to hold off a debate on WTC7 until the final report comes out sometime in August 2008(if ever). This would give you plenty of time to research. But why not have a debate on the “collapse” of WTC1 and 2? The final report has been out since the fall of 2005.

    Comment by tanabear — February 1, 2008 @ 5:45 am | Reply

  13. Mark Gold has earned his nickname, “The Running Man.” Be assured that he would never dream of facing Mark Roberts in any venue. He conveniently rules out ‘Hardfire,’ a show for which he is manifestly unqualified, because it saves him the inconvenience of trying to explain why he lacks the courage of his convictions. Again, we have self-styled champions of the “truth” who prattle endlessly to one another on tiny blogs, but who refuse to share their revelations with a worldwideaudience.

    Curiouser and curiouser.

    Comment by pomeroo — February 1, 2008 @ 8:26 pm | Reply

  14. pomeroo wrote:

    Mark Gold

    I guess you meant Jon Gold?

    has earned his nickname, “The Running Man.” Be assured that he would never dream of facing Mark Roberts in any venue.

    Let’s not jump to conclusions here. Let’s see if we can cook up a debate venue and a set of ground rules that both Jon Gold and Mark Roberts can agree on.

    For starters, although he hasn’t said so explicitly, I would assume that Jon wants a neutral host. He also wants to have a say about the topic range. In this Truth Action post, he specified some of the topics he would be willing to debate. Would Mark be interested in a debate focussed on those topics and possibly a few others, to be agreed upon in advance?

    P.S.: By the way, please keep in mind my Comment policy. Jon Gold is in the category “other people likely to be reading this blog.

    Comment by Diane — February 1, 2008 @ 9:05 pm | Reply

  15. Well, Jon and I have a long and colorful history. If you’re interested, I have a file that contains some of his memorable “triumphs” over me. If you read through it, you will understand why he will never face me or Mark Roberts in a debate.
    Anyway, the collapse of WTC 7 is held to be an “obvious” example of demolition. Surely there must be someone who can make the case?

    Comment by pomeroo — February 1, 2008 @ 11:57 pm | Reply

  16. pomeroo wrote:

    Well, Jon and I have a long and colorful history. If you’re interested, I have a file that contains some of his memorable “triumphs” over me.

    As long as it’s in some reasonable file format (preferably a plain ASCII text file, otherwise a Word document will do, but not a big GIF file, for example), by all means please email it to me.

    Anyway, the collapse of WTC 7 is held to be an “obvious” example of demolition. Surely there must be someone who can make the case?

    Speaking only for myself: To me there are glaringly obvious reasons to suspect something not quite purely natural about the collapse of WTC 7, but, as I said, I haven’t yet studied quite all the available public evidence (e.g. quite all the eye-witness testimonies), which I feel that I should before appearing in a televised debate.

    I can’t speak for others and their reasons.

    Comment by Diane — February 2, 2008 @ 1:56 am | Reply

  17. (This comment is an edited pingback.)

    Pingback by Debates and such - further reply to some JREF folks « New York City activist — February 2, 2008 @ 2:41 pm | Reply

  18. jthomas2 posted an announcement similar to the following, after a different post irrelevant to its topic (hence in violation of rule #1 of my comment policy), so I’ve deleted his comment and am now posting my own paraphrase of his announcement in a more appropriate place:

    Mark Roberts (a.k.a. Gravy from the JREF forums) will appear again on Ron Wieck’s Hardfire program, along with Arthur Scheuerman, to discuss World Trade Center 7. The show will be live at 9:00 PM Eastern time tomorrow night, February 26. Inside-job theorists are specifically encouraged to call in with their questions and challenges.

    See this post on Screw Loose Change for more details.

    jthomas, please see the email I’ll be sending you later today at the address you used to register here at WordPress.

    Comment by Diane — February 25, 2008 @ 9:59 pm | Reply


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